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Divorce Law

What You Need To Know About Child Custody

Child custody is the physical and legal relationship involving a parent/guardian, and their child. Custody includes taking care of and making critical decisions on behalf of the child in question. The issues of child custody mainly arise during a divorce, marriage annulment, and the death of a child’s parents. Read on to learn the different types of child custody, and decisions on child custody.

Kinds of Child Custody

There are different kinds of child custody as explained here Ronald Saper Law Offices.  Joint custody occurs when both parents have parental rights and live in the same quarters with their child. In many cases, courts will prefer to grant joint custody. Sole custody is where one parent is granted the practical and legal custody over their child. Practical custody refers to living with your child. It includes responsibility for your child’s daily care. Legal custody refers to having the right to decide on behalf of your child. It involves making judgment on issues such as religion, education, and health care.

Child Custody During a Divorce

Child custody in cases involving a divorced couple is either decided by an out of court agreement, or by the family court. The divorced parents may agree on visitation and custody rights through settlement negotiations involving their attorneys. The other way an out of court decision can be arrived at is through dispute resolution processes like mediation.

The other alternative for resolving child custody issues is going to a family court. Some of the factors that a judge will consider when granting custody include:

  • The age of the child
  • The needs of the child and the ability of the parent to address the child’s need
  • Relationship between the child and their parent and with other members of the family
  • The child’s mental and physical health
  • The mental and physical health of the parent seeking custody
  • The time that each parent has spent with their child

In many cases the judge will not consider the financial status of the parents, or whether the parents have new partners. The issues of the sexual orientation of a parent, or a parent’s culture do not factor in the judge’s decision.

Child Custody Decisions Involving Unmarried Parents

In cases involving unmarried parents, most states award sole physical custody to the mother. However, the father can bring an action to seek custody. Unmarried parents can seek to resolve the issue of child custody through an out of court settlement. If they are unable to reach a settlement, the issue will be forwarded to a family court judge for resolution. The main consideration that the judge will make when awarding custody is the child’s primary caretaker.

Child Custody Decisions Involving Non-Parents

In a few cases, people other than the parents of a child including aunts, uncles, grandparents, and family friends may seek to acquire the custody of a child. This is known as third party or non- parental custody. The procedure for seeking custody in such cases involves filling a non-parental custody petition with the family court. The judge will seek to determine how a person is related to the child, whether the child’s parents are alive or dead, and reasons the person wants custody. One copy of the custody petition will be handed to the parents of the child, if they are alive and their location is known.

Child custody is an issue that often arises during divorces and legal actions involving children. The matter can be resolved either out of court, with the help of lawyers, or in court. The main consideration made when deciding on custody is the best interest of the child.